SER­GIO STRIKES AR­GENTINA LEAVE IT LATE TO QUELL 2018 HOSTS

The Observer - Sport - - SPORT FOOTBALL - PA

Ser­gio Agüero left it late to fire Ar­gentina to a 1-0 friendly vic­tory over the World Cup hosts Rus­sia in Moscow. Jorge Sam­paoli’s side, field­ing a num­ber of world-class play­ers in­clud­ing Agüero, Lionel Messi and the winger Án­gel Di María, were re­strained by Rus­sia and their goal­keeper, Igor Ak­in­feev, for 85 min­utes. But Ar­gentina’s com­mit­ment to turn­ing the screw de­spite a se­ries of near-misses paid div­i­dends when Agüero broke Rus­sia’s re­solve with a firmly planted header.

Af­ter a ten­ta­tive start at the Luzh­niki Sta­dium, Di María sparked Ar­gentina into life by ping­ing Messi’s lay-off to­wards the Rus­sian goal, where Ak­in­feev was well-placed to make a smart stop.

The long-serv­ing goal­keeper de­nied Ar­gentina again in the 24th minute when Agüero shook off sev­eral de­fend­ers to aim for the bot­tom cor­ner. Dmitry Poloz proved Rus­sia were up for the game by fir­ing just wide of Ser­gio Romero’s goal af­ter con­nect­ing with Kon­stantin Rausch’s back-heeled pass, but Ar­gentina were soon able to re­gain con­trol.

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